Poor are Pawns in Massachusetts

Citizen Wealth Financial Justice Health Care

New Orleans The poor became pawns as the big players in the Massachusetts stand-off over health care coverage continued to up the stakes in this struggle with the news that Massachusetts General Hospital sued the state complaining of tens of millions in unreimbursed care.  They argued that Commonwealth Care – the state’s highly touted plan –  “…was never, ever supposed to be financed on the backs of the poor…”  according to Elaine Ullian, Mass General’s CEO as quoted by Abby Goodnought in a follow-up story in the  Times.

Hmmm….maybe, just another self-serving statement as one lays down a placeholder in court in this stalemate.

My problem continues to be that the poor are getting short shrift here as these big players rumble around on the field supposedly in their name.

Meanwhile in the pure cynicism I pointed out yesterday is already hardening into common wisdom and accepted truth.  As you remember, half of the so-called savings in Massachusetts is coming by playing gotcha with poor, eligible families and no longer automatically enrolling eligibles but counting of the fact that they will not access Commonwealth Care to the tune of almost $70 million if they have to go through an application process.  Still makes me sick to write this.

And, sure enough in the way this issue was buried in the story yesterday, it has unfortunately disappeared in today’s story.  Meaning that a “compromise” could arise which helps legal immigrants and still screws the poor.

Here’s the line today in the story, proving my fears:

“To help close a growing deficit, the Democratic-controlled Legislature eliminated coverage for some 30,000 legal immigrants in the new state budget. Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, is seeking to restore about half of the $130 million cut, but lawmakers have expressed reluctance, saying that doing so would require cuts to other important programs.”